Learn how to Get Round Japan on a Funds

a tall, colorful Buddhist pagoda overlooking Mount Fuji in Japan
Posted: 2/11/2019 | February 11th, 2019

I’ve a confession to make: I postpone touring to Japan till 2011 as a result of I all the time thought it was too costly.

Everybody all the time instructed me Japan was some of the costly nations on this planet. That was the collective knowledge.

However, once I received there, I noticed two matters: First, I really like Japan! It’s some of the wonderful, stunning, and friendliest nations on this planet. It lives as much as all of the hype.

Second, whereas Japan is pricey, it’s not out of attain for finances vacationers.

There are lots of low cost methods to get pleasure from Japan on a finances.

From discovering scrumptious meals to inexpensive motels to enjoyable actions, you don’t should pinch each penny have enjoyable.

Nonetheless, the one matter that’s really costly in Japan? Fast transportation.

Whereas it’s not an enormous nation, the island nation’s transportation infrastructure is geared to costly, high-speed journey or cheap, (actually) low-speed journey. There’s not a lot in between. It’s a three-hour prepare experience or a 12-hour bus experience!

So what are the most effective methods to journey round Japan with out spending all of your cash on transportation?

On this publish, I’ll break that down (as a result of it does require some work).

Getting Round Japan By Prepare

A super fast bullet train rocketing past a snow-capped Mount Fuji in Japan
Japan’s notorious bullet trains (known as shinkansen) are stunning, comfy, handy, and quick. They’re a marvel of transportation, racing round at speeds as much as 320 km (200 miles) per hour. These trains run on particular tracks, separate from the opposite trains.

They’re a ravishing feat of engineering and a clean experience. It’s the most effective in prepare journey.

Nonetheless, they’re additionally very, very costly.

Particular person tickets can value a whole lot of {dollars} — much more than airfare. To journey on a bullet prepare, you pay a fundamental prepare fare, then there’s an extra “tremendous categorical charge” of 800 to eight,000 JPY ($7.50 to $75). For instance, a one-way ticket from Kyoto to Hiroshima can value 11,300 JPY ($105 USD), from Tokyo to Kyoto is 13,710 JPY ($126 USD), from Osaka to Tokyo is round 15,000 JPY ($140 USD), and from Tokyo to Nagasaki is 25,850 ($240 USD).

To make issues worse, there are very hardly ever promotions or reductions. And, except you understand Japanese, they’re almost not possible to seek out.

Thankfully, there are different choices. Japan additionally has common restricted categorical and regional trains. Naturally, they’re much slower than the shinkansen, however they’re additionally cheaper.

For instance, a visit on an area prepare from Kyoto to Tokyo will value round 8,000 JPY ($73 USD) as an alternative of 13,710 JPY ($126 USD) for the bullet prepare. Nonetheless, the journey will take 9 hours as an alternative of three hours and also will require a number of transfers, making it a lower than a perfect selection for many vacationers.

Whether or not you go for the bullet prepare or regional trains, I feel prepare journey is one of the best ways to see the nation. It’s simply not a good suggestion to purchase particular person tickets. With a purpose to scale back your prepare prices, it’s worthwhile to get a Japan Rail (JR) cross.

The passes are good for JR trains — each common trains in addition to the shinkansen bullet trains! — which go to almost each vacation spot and area within the nation. What I actually like is that these JR trains additionally serve metropolitan areas, to allow them to be used inside cities. On my final go to, I used my cross to get round Kyoto and Tokyo as an alternative of shopping for metro tickets.

The JR cross is indispensable for journey in Japan, as you get limitless rides with it. The cross has a number of choices (every legitimate for consecutive days, not simply journey days):

  • 29,110 JPY ($267 USD) for 7 days
  • 46,390 JPY ($426 USD) for 14 days
  • 59,350 JPY ($545 USD) for 21 days

Even when you get simply the seven-day JR cross, it would nonetheless value lower than a round-trip prepare ticket from Osaka to Tokyo. And you’ll nonetheless do so much in seven days (it’s a small nation, in any case!)

The JR Cross is sweet on a number of sorts of JR trains. After the shinkansen, the following quickest is the tokkyu (restricted categorical). The kyuko categorical prepare comes subsequent, adopted by the kaisoku and futs? (native trains that make each cease).

Every of those passes additionally has a first-class choice. First-class vehicles in Japan are known as “inexperienced vehicles.” The Inexperienced Automotive JR Cross shall be round 10,000 JPY ($92 USD) extra for every cross. Because the trains in Japan are already wonderful, you seemingly don’t want to purchase the Inexperienced Automotive cross except you actually need some luxurious.

There are regional choices as properly in case you are not touring all the nation. These choices will prevent much more cash since they’re cheaper than the common JR passes. You should purchase JR passes for six completely different areas of the nation:

  • JR East
  • JR West
  • JR Central
  • JR Hokkaido (the northern island)
  • JR Kyushu (the southwestern island)
  • JR Shikoku (the southeastern island)

Every area may have a number of cross choices, normally ranging between 1-7 days. Should you’re simply going to be specializing in one area of the nation, take into account shopping for a JR regional cross. If you wish to discover all over the place, get the common JR Cross. (Should you’re a first-time customer to Japan, you’ll seemingly need the common JR Cross, because it covers all the main locations.)

One matter to bear in mind is that you must purchase your JR Cross earlier than you come to Japan. So be sure to have your “change order” (the receipt on your cross) earlier than you permit house! When you get to Japan, you’ll change your “change order” for a JR Cross at a JR workplace. Be sure to have your passport whenever you go to gather it!

Nonetheless, they’re at present permitting vacationers to purchase their passes on arrival in some areas, however that is only a check that’s set to finish in March 2019. Till then, right here is the place you should buy your cross in Japan: Sapporo, Sendai, Niigata, Tokyo, Shinjuku, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, Hakata, New Chitose Airport, Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, and Kansai Airport. The cross is out there primarily to non-Japanese vacationers who’re visiting for a restricted time. Whenever you apply for the cross, you’ll present your nationality and journey particulars. You will have your passport to gather your cross.

Should you don’t purchase a JR Cross and simply need to purchase single tickets between locations, listed below are the approximate costs you’ll pay for one-way prepare tickets with non-reserved seats within the “strange” (non-green automobile) class:

  • Hiroshima-Tokyo: 18,040 JPY ($167 USD)
  • Tokyo-Kyoto: 13,080 JPY ($120 USD)
  • Kyoto-Hiroshima: 10,570 JPY ($98 USD)
  • Tokyo-Nagoya: 10,360 JPY ($96 USD)
  • Nagoya-Kyoto: 5,070 JPY ($47 USD)
  • Kyoto-Osaka: 560 JPY ($5.25 USD)
  • Hiroshima-Fukuoka: 28,262 JPY ($256 USD)
  • Nagano-Kanazawa: 11,924 JPY ($108 USD)
  • Tokyo-Yokohama: 4,085 PJY ($37 USD)
  • Hakodate-Tokyo: 27,934 JPY($253 USD)
  • Nara-Kyoto: 900 JPY ($Eight USD)
  • Tokyo-Odawara: 7,175 JPY ($65 USD)

Should you don’t have a JR Cross, you’ll pay extra for a reserved seat, about 300 to 700 JPY ($2.75 to $6.50 USD). You don’t usually have to get a reserved seat except you might be touring in peak season when all seats could also be taken.

Getting Round Japan By Public Bus

A pink Willer Express coach bus full of people in Japan
Buses are a cheaper various however they take extra time. For instance, the two-hour bullet prepare experience from Tokyo to Osaka is 10 hours on the bus.

The worth for that seat is 4,500 JPY ($42 USD), however in some unspecified time in the future, it’s worthwhile to take into consideration how a lot your time is value. On my final journey, saving 10,500 JPY ($97) was not value the additional eight hours of journey, since I had restricted time.

If I’d had extra time, the bus would have been value it, particularly as a result of there are such a lot of cool stops alongside the best way to interrupt up the journey.

Willer Specific and Japan Bus Traces have bus passes that provide limitless journey and start at 10,000 JPY ($93 USD) for 3 non-consecutive days of journey. You may see the choices at willerexpress.com.

Listed here are some pattern bus fares between standard locations:

  • Tokyo-Kyoto: 1,599 JYP ($15 USD) – 7.5 hrs.
  • Tokyo-Nagoya: 2,998 JYP ($28 USD) – 6.5 hrs.
  • Nagoya-Kyoto: 2,550 JYP ($24 USD) – 2 hrs. 50 minutes.
  • Kyoto-Hiroshima: 4,590 JYP ($42 USD) – 7 hrs. 20 minutes.
  • Hiroshima-Tokyo: 6,000 JYP ($55 USD) – 12 hrs.
  • Kyoto-Osaka: 900 JYP ($Eight USD) – 1.5 hrs.
  • Hiroshima-Fukuoka: 4,150 JPY ($38 USD) – 4.5 hrs.
  • Nagano-Niigata: 3,290 JPY ($30 USD) – Three hrs.
  • Tokyo-Yokohama: 1,261 ($11 USD) – 1 hr. 20 minutes.
  • Aomori-Tokyo: 8,500 JPY ($77 USD) – 9 hrs. 35 minutes.
  • Nara-Kyoto: 2,800 JPY ($25 USD) – 2 hrs.
  • Kyoto-Odawara: 5,500 JPY ($50 USD) – 9 hrs.

As you may see, it’s so much cheaper to go by bus — however it takes so much longer!

Backside line: When you’ve got the time, take the bus. The coaches are comfy, and there are in a single day buses, which is a good various when you’re taking a protracted journey. Don’t be afraid to speak individuals up when touring, both: these I met in Japan have been actually pleasant. In the event that they’re Japanese, they’ll be more than pleased to let you know all about their nation (and ask about yours).

Getting Round Japan By Airplane

Colorful commercial airplanes in Japan painted with Pokemon pictures
Flying has turn out to be a greater choice as extra finances carriers now serve Japan. Basically, airfares are on par with bullet prepare tickets. JAL and ANA are the massive gamers. The primary “finances” carriers are Peach and Jetstar Japan.

Japan just isn’t an enormous nation, and I a lot want the prepare or bus, however in case you are brief on time and don’t really feel like hopping from island to island on a ferry or taking the bullet prepare, you may fly (although it’s much more of a problem!).

Listed here are some typical costs between a couple of standard locations in Japan:

JAL: 8,767 JPY ($81 USD) (one-way), 17,759 JPY ($164 USD) (return)
ANA: 11,239 JPY ($104 USD) (one-way), 20,323 JPY ($189 USD) (return)

JAL: 7,081 JPY ($65 USD) (one-way), 14,611 JPY ($135 USD) (return)
ANA: 9,329 JPY ($86 USD) (one-way), 16,972 JPY ($157 USD) (return)

JAL: 11,352 JPY ($105 USD) (one-way), 42,036 JPY ($388 USD) (return)
ANA: 18,881 JPY ($175 USD) (one-way), 37,649 JPY ($348 USD) (return)

JAL: 11,576 JPY ($107 USD) (one-way), 21,018 JPY ($194 USD) (return)
ANA: 16,409 JPY ($152 USD) (one-way), 25,738 JPY ($238 USD) (return)

Tokyo-Naha (Okinawa):
JAL: 8,063 JPY ($73 USD) (a technique), 23,301 JPY ($211) (return)
ANA: 11,156 JPY ($101 USD) (a technique), 21,720 JPY ($196 USD) (return)

JAL: 13,254 JPY ($120 USD) (a technique), 27,283 JPY ($247 USD) (return)
ANA: 7,200 JPY ($65 USD) (a technique), 15,500 ($140 USD) (return)

JAL: 11,597 JPY ($105 USD) (a technique), 23,195 JPY ($210 USD) (return)
ANA: 11,597 JPY ($105 USD) (a technique), 23,195 JPY ($210 USD) (return)

JAL: 20,542 JPY ($186 USD) (a technique), 41,091 JPY ($372 USD) (return)
ANA: 20,542 JPY ($186 USD) (a technique), 41,091 JPY ($372 USD) (return)

*No direct flights

Furthermore, ANA provides particular last-minute fares for 10,800 JPY ($99 USD) or much less at ana.co.jp/en/us/promotions/share/experience_jp/. These fares can be found solely to foreigners and may typically be cheaper than the flights you discover on different websites, particularly for longer routes.

When deciding whether or not to fly or journey through prepare, remember the fact that you’ll have to get to the airport in some way. Not all airports are shut: as an example, Kyoto’s nearest airport is in Osaka. Should you discover flights to be actually costly (as in these to and from Hiroshima), verify close by airports and, most of all, be versatile along with your itinerary.

Getting Round Japan By Ferry

Passengers lining up for a large ferry to take them to an island in Japan
Another choice in Japan is an interisland ferry, and there’s an intensive collection of routes. Ferries usually carry passengers, autos, and cargo. Passengers have a selection of three lessons: second (with or with out a mattress), first, and particular. You’ll not have your personal personal room on a ferry, although the first-class choice has simply two beds in every room.

Japan’s 4 principal islands are linked by bridges and tunnels, however numerous the smaller islands may be reached solely by water. Should you plan on exploring these, the Japan Ferry Cross 21 is an effective choice. It offers you six journeys on sure longer-distance ferry routes for 21 days. The cross is 21,000 JPY ($189 USD) and is out there solely to international vacationers. The cross is sweet for second-class journey and may’t be used throughout peak season; ferries have to be reserved prematurely. For extra info, go to jlc-ferry.jp.

Should you determine to go this route, remember the fact that the journeys may be very lengthy! Listed here are some instance routes, durations, and prices:

Length (hrs)
Second Class (no mattress)
First Class (with mattress)

Tokyo – Kitakyushu
17,000 JPY ($157 USD)
20,000 JPY ($183 USD)

Osaka – Shibushi
14,660 JPY ($134 USD)
22,000 JPY ($203 USD)

Kobe – Takamatsu
2,290 JPY ($21 USD)
4,300 JPY ($39 USD)

Niigata – Otaru
6,680 JPY($61 USD;
shared room with mattress)
14,160 JPY ($130 USD)

Naha – Tokashiki
1,660 JPY ($15 USD)

Naha – Kumejima
3,390 JPY ($31 USD)

Kagoshima – Naha
15,000 JPY ($136 USD)
29,000 JPY ($262 USD)

Beppu – Osaka
12,000 JPY ($109 USD)
20,000 JPY ($181 USD)

Getting Round Japan By Automotive

The blurred lights of a busy superhighway in Japan at night
I don’t suggest renting a automobile and driving round Japan by yourself. For one, rental vehicles are way more costly than public transit choices. In most locations, visitors is irritating, parking is an enormous problem, and except you communicate Japanese, getting round goes to be very troublesome.

Getting Round Japan By Hitchhiking

In case you are feeling adventurous, you may hitchhike. Japan’s a very secure nation, and it’s an opportunity for a free experience! Whereas virtually no Japanese hitchhike, many are more than pleased to select up foreigners. It’s a possibility for them to observe their English and interact a brand new tradition, so don’t be afraid to stay out a thumb!

Even out within the countryside, you received’t have a tough time discovering a experience. Even individuals who don’t communicate English will choose you up, because the individuals actually are extremely variety and giving. Don’t be stunned when you get requested to fulfill their household or mates or share a meal with them!

Our Neighborhood Supervisor, Chris, spent a month backpacking and hitchhiking in Japan. He by no means waited too lengthy for a experience, and folks have been extremely pleasant. They purchased him snacks and meals, drove method out of their method to assist him, and even took them to their properties to fulfill their household. Should you’re comfy doing this, it may be a really culturally rewarding expertise!

Should you determine to go this route, make an indication letting individuals know which path you’re headed. Add a smiley face and different cute drawings to up your probabilities of discovering a experience. A great useful resource for locating the most effective locations to discover a experience is Hitchwiki.

How Lengthy Does it Take to Get Round Japan?

Listed here are some distances and journey occasions. I feel this may persuade you that the prepare actually is the best way to go.

Highway (km/miles)
Air (hrs.)
Prepare (hrs.)
Bus (hrs.)











The Finest Solution to Get Round Japan

Backside line: The most effective transportation choice actually will depend on the size of your journey. Should you solely have per week or so in Japan and need to get round actually fast, get a rail cross and take the prepare all over the place it’s worthwhile to go. It’s not going to be low cost, however it is going to be essentially the most environment friendly. When you’ve got extra time and have numerous locations to go to in an identical geographic area, take the bus. Should you’re not comfy hitchhiking, attempt an app like CarpoolWorld, which helps you discover all kinds of carpool, vanpool, and rideshare listings by vacation spot.

Whichever methodology you select, you’ll be in good fingers. Japan has among the most secure, cleanest, best journey choices on this planet, so get pleasure from!

Ebook Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

Ebook Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight by utilizing Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite search engines like google and yahoo as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned.

Ebook Your Lodging
You may ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve essentially the most complete stock so they’re finest for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a resort or guesthouse in Japan, use Reserving.com as they constantly return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low cost motels. They’re the most effective reserving website on the market. My favourite locations to remain in Japan are:

  • Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki (Tokyo) – This is without doubt one of the finest hostels within the nation. The workers go above and past, every room has its personal rest room, and it’s in an important location that will help you discover the town.
  • Jiyujin (Kyoto) – This can be a smaller hostel that’s nice for anybody trying to have a extra quiet and relaxed keep within the metropolis.
  • Ok’s Home (Hiroshima) – This can be a nice chain of hostels across the nation. The workers are useful, the widespread areas are all the time full of individuals, and so they even have free tea and occasional.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes mistaken. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions prior to now. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite firms that provide the most effective service and worth are:

Searching for the most effective firms to economize with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most effective firms to make use of whenever you journey! I checklist all those I take advantage of to economize once I journey – and I feel will enable you too!

Searching for extra journey ideas for Japan
Take a look at my in-depth Japan journey information for extra methods to economize, prices, tips about what to see and do, recommended itineraries, studying, packing lists, and far, way more!

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